The First Blog – barefoot running ?!

Well I never thought I would be doing this but something is driving me – the London Marathon. I seem to have entered.

It all started when I went to buy so running shoes in Nov. Now I don’t do a lot of running but it has been part of my life since rowing training at school and university. Anyway, bought some of those very odd looking Vibram five fingers at the local Run and Become store. I had very vaguely heard about them before going shopping, but had put them down to a rather pointless fad. Sitting at home with a cup of post purchase tea, I read the box. Somewhere within it said something like – ‘warning you may not be used to using your feet..you must practise.’

This shocked me and seemed to sum up the state of the world and our relationship to it. To cut a long story short it dawned on me that I had to do something about the state of the world and one possible way would be to run for Tusk… and to attempt it barefoot.

Truthfully the idea of running in a marathon, and particularly such an enormous one, does nothing for me whatsoever. I would like to know if I can run 26 odd miles but would be perfectly happy setting off on some random sunny Saturday just to find out. Recently though my charity work has increasingly overlapped with the objectives of Tusk and Tusk has been on my mind. As they had spaces for the marathon something in me connected running minimalist – Vibram five finger style – with Tusk.

I have had aching knees for decades and the thought of pounding them over roads and pavement surrounded by thousands of noisy people is completely unattractive. The only way I am interested in running a marathon is  if my body can do it lightly and my naked feet will make it feel more like a cheeky bit of fun. I have long given up taking running seriously. The only way to do it is to skip through mind exercises and games – treading on the coal hole covers, avoiding the cracks..

My first few runs with the Vibrams felt great. The first was about 15 minutes, the second about 20 (up to Hyde Park and back). Then I found myself at Fishhoek Beach in South Africa with a bit of time to hand (working out a Land Rover purchase). Ah the forth run was 8kms by a wild Great White infested sea. My right calf felt a bit sore coming back so  I walked the last 2kms. I then gave it a little neuromuscular treatment and a bit of facial unwinding- osteopathic style – and waited a few days. I then tried the 8 kms again and about 5 short and long runs – all fine and felt great.

On arriving back in the UK mid Dec. I went out for my first run. Limping after 15 minutes from calf pain. Was it the cold ???Thought it would go away. Had to walk home. Extremely painful for days. Could muster a gentle run after a couple of weeks. Then of course I started to read up about the delights, dangers and difficulties of running with Vibrams and running barefoot ( helped by great Christmas presents). On the back of this I have chosen to try and run barefoot. I have always loved ‘using my feet’ although not for regular  running.

I am currently in the Alps getting in some telemark skiing. Now telemark and running barefoot seem to go together. They are all about using less fancy kit to enjoy simple delights. They both involve ways of using the body and reacting to the landscape that make you feel alive. MOre of this another time.

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